Mary Rowlandson/Jill Lepore

Mary Rowlandson/Jill Lepore
Student Questions
Michelle LaFalce
“The Name of War” by Jill Lepore
I found this book to be very interesting. I
enjoyed it far more than the Indian Captivity
Narratives. Lepore writes to captivate her audience
through the use of factual stories. Reading her book
was both entertaining and educational. I enjoyed the
story of John Sassamon. At first I was confused as to
if Sassamon was an Indian or not. I soon figured that
out as I continued reading that he was indeed and
Indian who had converted to Christianity and
preached in an Indian town. I liked learning about
who Sassamon was and why King Philip might not
have liked him near the end of his life. I found it
fascinating the amount of Indians who learned to read
and write. It is ironic that few European settlers even
began to fathom the thought of leaning the native
language of the Indians but they expected the Indians
to learn English. Also, I liked the debate of whether
language was the cause of Sassamon’s death.
“literacy makes history possible, the story of John
Sassamon suggests that literacy might sometimes
make history impossible, at least temporarily” (46). I
never thought about that before and Lepore does a
good job in explaining her theories. This is
a website about John Sassamon’s life. I also found a
book called “Igniting King Philip’s War: The John
Sassamon Murder Trial.” It looked like it would be
very interesting to read. Here is the website to the
Maria Fortson
Reading Response
According to Lepore in The Name of War,
language is an important and often forgotten aspect
when writing about history. Before television and
pictures, people had to give their personal accounts
when recording history. Because it is retold in the
author’s perspective who is usually not an actual
historian, the recollection tends to be biased and onesided. It is important to remember that during King
Philip’s War, the majority of the Native American
people were illiterate in the English language. The
history that is recorded during this time was written
by the Europeans who were fighting the Native
American people. It is difficult to comprehend the
reasoning behind the hatred towards the Native
Americans. After reading Lepore, I felt misinformed
about the entire history of King Philip’s War. If the
documented information is recorded by the European
Americans and not the Native Americans, how can
we really know what went on during that time? How
can we be certain about anything?
Mechelle Puckett
I particularly liked the passage on
page XIV in the second paragraph
"this triangulated conception of
identity would form the basis of
American nationalism as it emerged
in the late eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries."
Here, Lepore claims that English
identity in New England, and then
later American identity, was a
byproduct of reactions to both the
natives and the continental
Europeans. I think this is a
strong claim that I look forward to
studying further. This is new
ground for me to cover.
"B. How, according to Lepore, did
New Englanders use language to make
sense of violence during King
Philip’s War?"
According to Lepore, the New
Englanders would have to win the
twice- as she says, the first would
be one of wounds, the second would
be one of words. The Puritans
needed to firmly establish their
"Englishness." If the war had to
be fought, they would have to win,
and use their "literall advantage"
to justify their participation in
violent acts against the heathens
who did them wrong. History often
paints a fairer picture to those
who write it. The Indians had no
chance of winning the war of words,
and no fair possibility of
Todd Cates
Some of the questions I would like
to discuss are:
How do we use language to justify
our violence?
How has today's media changed the
old axiom that "the winners write
history?" Can we still even say
that today?
Samantha Davis
Rowlandson and Lepore
I thought the most interesting point made by Lepore was the fact that Puritans
during the war viewed the war as punishment for not converting the Indians around them.
Their sins were causing loses in the war to their “heathen” Indian neighbors. A quote by
Increase Mather supports this claim by Lepore; “War” is “the greatest of all outward
Judgments.” All acts of war were seen as God’s anger against the Puritans for their sins.
Mary Rowlandson discusses this during her captivity, as well as the fact that her captivity
shows her a need to become closer to God.
Questions: Why did the Puritans see the acts of war committed by Native Americans as
“barbarous”, yet turned a blind eye to their own killing of the “enemy”?
Did Puritans allow “Christianized” Indians to join Puritan society?
Gerrit Breves
There were a few remarkable parts in „The Name of War“, which I briefly comment on.
At first I want to start with a comic part which committed to my memory: Reverend
Cotton Mathers attempt to avoid the publishing of one of Hubbard’s books. They were
both Puritan Ministers and Mathers thoughts should have been more pure. Instead he
acted like an envious man and not like a man of god, as he should have acted. For me,
this is very remarkable because I thaught that Puritans were tightened in their faith and
Other parts increased my understanding of Mary Rowlandson’s book, especially the way
the Puritans behaved and it delivered a broader insight to their culture.
For instance how the appeal of persons showed how civilized they were. For example
long hair was vaguely associated with cannibalism. Indian women and even men fitted
very well in this Puritan’s point of view. But it was not only the Indian’s hairstyle which
mattered, their clothing, faces and specifically their skin colour appeared strange,
uncivilized and demonical to the Puritans.
Also the Indian’s way of cultivating the land and their nomadism made the Puritans
believe they were (or should be) the legitimate (Gods chosen) owners of the Indian’s
land. For the Puritans civilization expressed itself in their way of agriculture and the
establishment of towns & villages (permanent residence).
David Epps
---For New Englanders, I think that the meaning of the war was mainly
about survival. The Puritans had come from England to escape
oppression and hard times only to come to the new world to face even
bigger ones. Both sides saw the other as a threat to their ways of
life and unfortunately both sides decided that war between them would
perhaps bring about a resolution to their differences
---The New Englanders used language to make since of the violence in
order. Sometimes the atrocities they witnessed were too much to keep
inside and so they felt as though they needed to write down what they
saw in order to cope as well as not forget what had happened. In
addition, language helped the Puritans because when they chronicled
events that happened they tended to use softer language to describe
themselves and harsh language about the Indians. This made them as
well as readers feel as though they were the "Good guys".
Emmanuel Reddish
Dr. Erben- Here is my response posting. Emmanuel Reddish
I believe that King Philip's War was a war concerning a contest between
chaos and order. The Puritans believed that the indians were of nothing
but chaos and disorderly conduct. they also feared that they were a
threat to their land and property that they believed properly belonged
to them. This was a fight for survival for the indians and the puritans
wanted to get rid of these heathens. It is a combination of all.
My Quote: (pg. 77)- "But during the war it seemed to many colonists
that all that had made them English and all that had made the land
their own--their clothes, houses, barns, churches, cattle, and crops-were being threatened."
Check out this website. it is great at briefly analyzing King Phillip's
War: The causes, the war itself, and the effects.
Marquita Elder
According to In the Name of War, minister Samuel Nowell cites “three causes of
War…1.For defence of ourselves. 2.To recover what hath been taken away. 3.To punish
for injuries done” (120). The meaning for King Philip’s War in New England, however,
hinged on radically different concepts. Although many colonists cited some of the same
reasons addressed in the question, ultimately, embedded within each of those
justifications lay the colonists’ determination to prove their superiority, both religiously
and, in some ways, economically. For young America, such goals were especially
important. Above all, colonists simply wanted to establish successful homesteads,
homesteads mandated by the very God they served, and thereby establish an identity for
themselves, locally and globally. Refusing to fight, for colonists, was akin to
succumbing to the wilderness, to the metaphorical darkness they had only so recently
escaped from. In the wake of the war’s earliest devastations, Lepore explains colonial
identity as such: “By becoming as nomadic as Indians, they had not lost only their
property but their identity as well, “blown / From place to place without a home to own”
(83). The war was a fight for the land. Even the Puritans were not beyond enjoying
wealth’s fruits.
Dobrinka Genevska-Stamm
Pirates and Emperors
How people name a war in terms of exact description and how it is viewed in
terms of intensity and duration may vary from one war to another, but the facts that it is
always “the greatest cruelty of human race” and that there are always two sides of one
and the same story remain constant. One can describe battles in pictures or in words like
“brutal,” “bloody,” “massacre” etc. Every war is unique in terms of exact circumstances
and length. Still every war is the same, because of the very fact that there are always
losses on the side of humanity. Furthermore there are always two competing forces,
calling themselves enemies. The English settlers have called the Indians “enemies” and
the Indians have attached the same attribute “enemy” to the Puritans. The actual problem
occurs when we take a closer look on the discrepancy between how each side calls
themselves and how it calls “the others.” The English have claimed their actions to be
“justice” whether naming those of the native Americans “cruelty.” It is more convenient
and it justifies the own actions especially in the name of the own nation, culture or
peoples. It has been the European “self” against the Indian “other,” which later on shifts a
little bit to an English “self” and a Spanish “other” etc. If the reasons are to be justified or
not is just another question, but primarily this is what each side always says. The simile
of the pirate and the emperor by Noam Chomsky is just another example for the same
phenomenon. Both the pirate and the emperor rule exactly the same way. The only
difference is how they view themselves. The emperor is the “good” one whereas the
pirate is “evil.” Such definitions attach qualities to the “other,” which are not necessarily
true. Most of the time they are, have always been and will always be merely convenient.
Dear Dr. Erben,
James Boles
I found it very interesting, early on, that the author used the word
typically several times over to describe heinous acts of violence.
Being away from England created a cultural identity crisis for the
colonists. Cultural and personal doubts were created by not only the
isolation from Great Britain, but also from extreme exposure to the
Native American culture. I believe that this highly traumatic isolation
from "Englishness" created a window of opportunity to indulge in
oppression and violence as it became an excuse or an out on why they
were being barbaric. The war for the Puritans was fought for many
reasons. One reason that probably fueled the English war machine was
that they were fighting to reclaim the identity they were afraid of
losing. However, the reality was the English were trying to culturally
change the Indians, not the other way around. The inability of the
colonists to recognize that they were inflicting their worst gears on
their neighbors is interesting. The English were doing their best to
avoid cruelty to maintain their civility, but why? England's cruel
treatment of Ireland and its inhabitants is well documented. It appears
as if violence and cruelty were more accurate adjectives to describe
English tradition. This incredible negligence is only made possible by
the literary war that the Puritans used on themselves to justify their
very un-"Englishness" action.
Interesting Passage:
"... wage the war, and win it, by whatever means necessary, and then
write about it, to win it again. The first will be a victory of
wounds, the second a victory of words." (Lepore 11)
Joseph Benise
“In the Name of War” written by Jill Lepore gives the view point from
the Indians side of the war and how they looked toward the settlers.
Two pages that stick out in my mind that have to deal with Mary
Rowlandson was quoted in “In the Name of War” on page seven “Not only
had the English taken Indian lands and disrupted traditional systems of
trade and agriculture, but they also had corrupted the power of native
rulers, or sachems, and attempted to eradicate the influence of
powwows, native religious leaders. Philips himself believed that too
many Indians had been Anglicized and Christianized, praying to an
English God and even learning to read and write.” The English looked
upon the Indians as satanic barbaric people that did not have a well
writing system. Both the Puritans and Indians looked upon each other
as a threat and the Indians. I also noticed in the book that the
Puritans in a sense didn’t want to loose there Englishness but also
keep there Englishness.
Joshua Waychoff
In the Mary Rowlandson piece, she kept using passages from the Bible to explain
what was happening to her at certain moments. Did the use of these passages also serve
as a way to influence those who read this narrative towards the Puritan way, or were they
used to justify the things the Puritan went through in her captivity? There seemed to be
several instances throughout the reading where the Indians seemed to taunt her about
killing her, her husband and going home. I believe this was used to show the reader just
how apathetic the Indians seemed to her.
Rebecca Gilliland
The war is all four according to Lepore. This is made obvious by her use of titles
to vacillate between two sides of the argument and her descriptions and citations within
each chapter and sub heading. I think it’s more a clash of the two cultures in all respects
that initialized the altercation(s) that’s dubbed a war. Her thesis is straight forward and
well laid out with ample references to Increase Mather and Mary Rowlandson so it fills in
the gaps in our discussion so far. My choice of discussion page is 119. This page seems
to get to the meat of the argument over the differences and explanations for both sides of
the debate and hits on a few of the issues covered in the prior chapters.
Kenny Rivers
In the first chapter of Jill Lepore’s, In The Name Of War, she shows how the New
Englanders used language to make sense of the violence during King Phillip’s War. She
tells how the New Englanders told about the delight the Indians took in their savagery,
and how the New Englanders were appalled and pained to have to watch the torture of the
Indians. She also makes a point to tell how the Indian being tortured shoed no signs of
agony yet the New Englanders felt his pain. In doing this they were able to further
themselves from the savagery and show the pain that it caused them. This enforced that
they were still Englishmen and had not given into the ways of the Indians.
Kyle Johnson
As I read the account of Mary Rolandson, I noticed her opinon of her
captors, as the text progressed, became less of a heathonistic view and
sort of morphed into that of an equal (on a human level). As we
discussed in class, Mather's intent on getting Rolandson's story out to
the public was to show the horrors and the inhumanity that were the
natives. What it seems to me is that the Rolandson text, dosen't agree
with the capture, but what it does do is humanize a distinctly
"inhuman" (by Puritian standards) individuals. Along with this, the
Rolandson text is a tale of the power and determination of a woman.
This could deffinatly be seen as an empowerment text, and, at least I
think so, that Mather would not have been too fond of this.
-Ashleigh Higgins
-What is the meaning of King PhilipÂ’s War for the New England
It is never easy for to very different worlds to come together in
harmony. This has long been the history of the United States. Since the
birth of the nation, people of varying national origin have fought
tirelessly to stake claim on their piece of land and to be able to live
as they choose (while continuing their own cultural practices). (Ex:
American Indian v. Colonists; Irish v. Americans of English Descent;
Chinese immigrants v. Frontier settlers; Black Americans v. White
Americans). A clash between races is somewhat of answer, but far too
simple. It is not the actual existence of various races, but the fear
of the unknownÂ…the fear of changeÂ…the fear of norm violationÂ…the
fear of competition that drives racial/ethnic conflict. The same can be
said about the conflicts which existed between New England Puritans and
the American Indians (King PhilipÂ’s tribes).
*see pic of King Philip @
Eve Fletcher
King Philip’s War clearly had a number of different meanings for New England
Puritans. Yet, in the prologue Lepore makes an interesting observation by noting that
cultural isolation was an important factor for the colonists. While Indians fought to
maintain their lifestyle, Lepore states that the New England colonists fought to “free
themselves of doubts of their own Englishness” (8). Although the colonists apparently
experienced anxiety, it never occurred to me that they would have had so many questions
and concerns about their own identity. In trying so hard to establish their role, the
colonists would have been unwilling to positively identify with the lifestyle of the
Indians. The colonists also had fears about their own savagery, and as Lepore notes in the
prologue, their disgust served as a way to differentiate their identity from that of the
Indians. It is almost as though maintaining a peace with the Indians was nearly
impossible, since the colonists feared that their lifestyle and morality would deteriorate
just by association. The colonist’s preoccupation with their identity made it necessary to
represent King Philip’s War as a battle between civilization and savagery.